Category Archives: goals
You’ve probably heard the expression, “you are what you eat,” but what exactly does that mean? Put simply, food is fuel, and the kinds of foods and drinks you consume determine the types of nutrients in your system and impact how well your mind and body are able to function.
Avoid: Sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine. Sugary drinks have empty calories and damage tooth enamel. Caffeine dehydrates you. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and mood changes, in addition to physical effects like thirst, decreased or dark urine, dry skin, headache, dizziness and/or constipation.
Try to: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (about 2 liters) to prevent dehydration. If you feel like you need some caffeine, limit it to one cup of coffee, or try tea. Tea has lower amounts of caffeine than coffee and has lots of antioxidants-chemicals found in plants that protect body tissues and prevent cell damage.
Avoid: Skipping breakfast. Breakfast is needed to fuel your body (including your brain) after going without food during sleep and also jump starts your metabolism for the day. Skipping meals leads to fatigue and feelings of “brain fog.”
Try to: Incorporate a healthy breakfast into your routine. If you’re tight on time in the mornings, grab a whole grain granola bar, yogurt and a piece of fruit to get you off to a good start.
Lunch and Dinner
Avoid: High-fat dairy, and fried, refined and sugary foods, which have little nutritional value. In addition to contributing to weight gain, and conditions like diabetes, research shows that a diet that consists primarily of these kinds of foods significantly increases risk of depression.
Try to: Eat a diet that relies on fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fats (like olive oil). People who follow this kind of diet are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than people who eat lots of meat and dairy products.
Tips for the Grocery Store
Mind and Body Boosting Nutrients
Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9)
Increased intake of folate is associated with a lower risk of depression.
Folate is especially important for pregnant women, but everyone needs folic acid for production of cells. It is especially important for healthy hair, skin, nails, eyes, liver and red blood cell production.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains have high amounts of folate, or folic acid.
Rates of depression are higher in people with Vitamin D deficiency compared to people who have adequate levels of vitamin D. Lack of Vitamin D is thought to play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression that commonly starts in the fall, lasts through winter and subsides in the sunnier spring and summer months.
Vitamin D is needed to help the body absorb calcium for strong teeth and bones, and the health of muscles and the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with heart disease and increased risk of heart attacks.
Most foods do not naturally have Vitamin D, but many are “Vitamin D fortified.” Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have the most naturally occurring Vitamin D. Other foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals have Vitamin D added.
Our bodies also produce Vitamin D as a result of being in the sun. Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure twice a week generally produces enough Vitamin D, with lighter-skinned people requiring less time than those with darker skin. Time in the sun beyond the suggested amounts above requires use of sunscreen to prevent skin damage and reduce risk of skin cancer. Vitamin D supplements may be used in fall and winter months.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some studies suggest that omega-3s may be helpful in the treatment of depression and seem to have a mood-stabilizing effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids may also help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressants and help young people with ADHD.
Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be important in reducing inflammation, the primary cause of conditions like arthritis and asthma, and play a role in heart health by reducing triglycerides (blood fats). They may also reduce risk for certain kinds of cancer.
Oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) are the most highly recommended sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the American Heart Association suggests eating these types of fish at least twice a week. Omega-3s can also be found in walnuts, flax (or flax seed oil), olive oil, fresh basil and dark green leafy vegetables. Link to article.
August 28, 2014
Anxiety can feel as though an incredibly loud and boisterous parade is charging right through your very being: blasting bands, flashy floats, animals, and announcers ad nauseam. This chaos within can cause headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, aches and pains, and other noxious anxiety symptoms. Further, our thoughts become anxious and race with worry and obsessions. Often, panic sets in. As if this weren’t bad enough, we have to live in the midst of this parade. We have to deal with parade garbage (think about it—debris, litter, road apples) while simultaneously dealing with everything else around us. With pandemonium on the inside, how do we deal with all of the stuff on the outside?
Anxiety and Stress Are Connected
To be sure, life can be downright crushing. It’s often full of stress. When you have to destroy a rainforest in order to write your to-do list, you know you’re dealing with too much. Or maybe the number of items is small but they’re daunting in nature. The actual number of tasks is relatively inconsequential; what matters is how they impact your well-being. As the more than forty million people living with anxiety disorders can likely attest, overwhelming stress is often closely connected with overwhelming anxiety.
When it comes to stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed, it can be hard to sort out cause and effect. Is your overwhelming stress causing your anxiety? Or perhaps is your overwhelming anxiety causing your life to feel intensely stressful?
Working with a therapist to sort things out can be very beneficial. However, you don’t have to know with certainty whether you’re anxious because of stress or whether stress is worse because you’re anxious. Personally, when I’m overwhelmed and the anxiety-and-stress parade is marching around painfully inside of me and interfering with my outer world, I really don’t care which is causing the other. I just know that anxiety and stress are there and connected; I’m overwhelmed and I want the parade to stop.
Ways to Reduce that Overwhelmed Feeling
Because anxiety and stress are often Co-Grand Marshals in this obnoxious internal parade, they can be reduced together. Each of the following techniques has been proven to reduce both stress and anxiety:
Avoid All-or-Nothing Thinking
Anxiety can loom so large that we begin to think in extremes: You might think, “I’ll never get this done,” “I can’t do anything right,” “If I don’t do this perfectly, I’m a failure,” “I’m a horrible partner/parent/employee/boss/person,” “I made a mistake and now people hate me,” and on and on. Of course we feel high anxiety about the outcomes of these things we’re telling ourselves.
Recognizing how we’re thinking is a helpful step in reducing anxiety. Over the next few days, simply notice your thoughts. What are you telling yourself? Once you become aware of all-or-nothing thinking, you can change how you think and what you say to yourself. “I missed a deadline” changes from “I’m horrible and I’m going to be fired,” to “I made a mistake, but I do many good things, too. Overall, I’m valuable and am not likely to lose my job over this single incident.”
Break (Or, Rather, Don’t)
When we’re anxious and stressed, it’s easy to look at all of the tasks that lie ahead of us and become overwhelmed. At times, we’re stopped in our tracks and completely shut down. We have reached our breaking point. At this point, anxiety is very high, and our ability to cope seems very low. The good news is that we have the power to prevent ourselves from breaking.
The trick? Break! Take breaks, and break up tasks into bits and pieces.
To avoid hypocrisy, I will admit upfront that I find it extremely difficult to take breaks. After all, when life is overwhelming with all of its demands and anxiety is flaring as a result, it just doesn’t seem logical or even possible to walk away from stress for a while. However, it is vital. Even a short break can help your mind refresh and reset, and often when you return to your task you do so with a clearer head. Stand and stretch, get some fresh air if possible, massage your temples, breathe deeply. Snacking on something nutritious and energy-sustaining can give your brain and body a needed boost. For me, it seems that I don’t have time for a break, but in reality, when my anxiety decreases, I feel less overwhelmed, and I’m actually more productive when I take short breaks here and there throughout the day.
Further, anxiety often surges when tasks loom large in front of us. Life can be incredibly overwhelming when everything seems like one big mess, but it’s easier to manage when we break things into manageable bits. Take my desk. It often looks like an office products store exploded on top of it. When I stare at it, I’m overwhelmed and I’m hit by a wave of anxiety that makes me feel like I’m drowning. When I stare at the entire mess, I feel daunted and can hardly begin to fix it. I’ve learned to break the task into bits. I’ll clear one area then take a break. I might choose to put the rest aside and move onto something else, or I might come back and tackle another section. Either way, I’ve taken control, I can do something about the mess, and I feel my stress and anxiety ease.
To-Do List? How about a To-Done List!
Of course listing the tasks that lie ahead of you is a way of organizing yourself, feeling in charge, and reducing stress and anxiety. Yet it can be overwhelming to look at a huge list that never seems to shrink even when we break it into bits. When we only focus on what we have to do rather than taking stock of all that we have already done, we feel stressed, and anxiety often skyrockets. To keep this in check, consider creating a list of things you’ve already accomplished, a to-done list, if you will. It’s very satisfying at the end of a long and stressful day to think about all that you’ve done and to write it down. Then, when your anxiety tells you that you’re not in control, you can see for yourself that you are indeed in control and are accomplishing things. link to article
Whether you’re overwhelmed by anxiety or your anxiety is making you feel overwhelmed, it’s stressful. The good news is that it truly is possible to take steps each and every day to rid yourself of anxiety.
What works for you when you’re overwhelmed by anxiety?
Whether we know it or not, we’ve all met some form of the typical “Miss Independent.”
Some of us know her better than others; some of us claim that title ourselves.
She’s the self-sufficient, somewhat mysterious go-getter with big dreams and an even bigger heart, though not everyone sees it at first glance.
Some might see her as cold and distant, because she needs a significant amount of alone time to keep her from feeling scattered and spread so thin that she disappears. Sure, she has family and friends with whom she loves to spend much of her time, but it’s in her nature to crave those precious hours of solitude—being only with her thoughts, completely alone in a crowd or in the vastness of a quiet scene.
Some call it antisocial; she calls it sanity.
For any or all of these reasons and then some, she’s never been the type to “fall in love.” In fact, if she has ever been in a relationship to any degree, it was likely one of the most difficult and confusing things she’s ever experienced—and she’s not usually one to be deterred.
Perhaps she’s too focused on her goals to realize that love could be knocking on her door, or she’s so comfortable with being in control that the thought of surrendering even a little bit to someone else makes her uneasy. There’s also a chance that, despite her outward confidence and undeniable potential for success, she’s extremely insecure.
Or, maybe she’s simply afraid of opening herself up enough to be loved.
Whatever the reason, it comes down to the fact that this girl probably doesn’t know how to handle the love that a suitor might want to give her. It doesn’t mean she’s a lost cause, it just means that developing any kind of relationship with her will require an approach that’s more sensitive to her guarded heart.
In an effort to offer some insight, here are a few pointers for learning how to love a girl who doesn’t know how to be loved:
- Be patient.
Don’t expect her to feel comfortable with diving headfirst into anything even slightly resembling romance. Keep in mind, it’s probably taken her a great deal of contemplation and courage to even consider spending her time with you. And if she does appear comfortable responding to your first moves, it’s quite possible that she’s actually terrified of what you’ll think of her if she asks to slow things down. So, she just musters the strength to submit herself to the moment, only to spend all night feeling horrible about her dishonesty and inability to step on the brakes. This will freak her out enough to make her sever whatever ties were made and withdraw immediately—something she’s not afraid to do.
To avoid that, let things unfold at a pace that feels natural, which might be slower than what’s considered “normal.” Remember, she’s not used to this, and too much at once will surely send her over the edge. Showing sensitivity to her pace will let her know that she doesn’t have to fear being out of control, causing a miscommunication or feeling the pressure of time.
Because she spends so much of her time alone and in her head, this girl might be under the impression that her thoughts and opinions are a bit too intense for others. She rarely shares the things on her mind, as she fears that whatever’s in there is so deep and inquisitive that people will think it’s overdramatic, oddly philosophical or just plain weird. She values deep conversation, but feels that she can exercise this pleasure with relatively few people, if any at all.
So talk with her. Let her know that she can say what’s on her mind, and don’t be afraid of her ability to dissect every possible meaning of a theory she’s been hung up on for weeks. If she apologizes for rambling about it, tell her she doesn’t need to be sorry, she doesn’t need to suppress it. Make her feel that although she is certainly unique for having such thoughts, she isn’t crazy or abnormal.
Tell her it makes her all the more beautiful.
And then, give it right back to her. Be sure to engage in her contemplations just as much as you listen; she wants to hear your thoughts more than you realize.
- Support her.
Part of this girl’s struggle with letting herself be loved could be that she is relentlessly focused on her dreams and goals, so much so that she forgets to make room in her life for other things—like relationships. It’s not something she does intentionally, she’s just extremely determined to achieve whatever she has set out to do.
If she is forced to make a choice between a love life and her goals, she’s already chosen the latter. So don’t make her choose.
And certainly don’t make her feel guilty for not spending more of her time with you as a result—she’ll take that as another sign that she needs to sever the ties, even if they’re stronger at this point.
Instead, support her. If you really love this girl and she really loves you, then she’ll welcome the encouragement. She’ll want to support you, too. Let her; with a heart as passionate as hers, you’ll want her on your team.
- Don’t be two halves of a whole, be two wholes that make an even greater whole.
Remember that this “Miss Independent” is just that—an independent chick with an ability to fend for herself. She might even be afraid of relying on others, no matter how much she trusts them.
Therefore, don’t think of a relationship with her as one that joins two halves together to make a whole; she won’t treat it as such, and she definitely won’t feel comfortable if you do. Rather, see it as two wholes becoming an even greater whole—two individuals who love each other enough to respect the other’s independence and uniqueness.
This includes honoring her need for alone time. She realizes that you are a person with or without her and asks that you see her in the same way. Being able to spend time apart is important to her; she doesn’t want to rely on your presence, nor does she want you to rely on hers.
Don’t try to spend every hour of every day with her unless you want her to feel so bombarded that she tailspins into a mess of tears, word vomit and utter confusion, ending with her breaking it off and swearing to never interact with another human ever again.
But when you are together, be together. Completely. Let her know she is loved until she begins to understand what that feels like, and then keep doing it. If it’s right, she’ll come around. And because she’s loyal by nature, she’ll stickaround, too (so don’t give her any reason to think that you won’t).
Truly, this girl has a lot of love to give, even if she’s a bit awkward in showing it at first. She just needs time—time to figure things out for herself, to better understand how this works.
Let her figure out that deep down, she just wants to love and be loved—just like everyone else.
If she happens to let you close enough to love her, take it seriously. It means she’s trying. It means she wants to love you. And remember that helping her learn how to be loved in return is the surest way to win her heart.
Coping with symptoms of mental illness can be a daily struggle for the mentally ill. Each person develops his or her own strategies to cope with these painful experiences. These strategies can be as unique to each person as people can make them. What works for you to battle your mental illness symptoms might not work for me, and vice versa.
We learn these coping strategies over time in the crucible of our illness and the ways in which we gain insight into our symptoms and how they uniquely affect us. That’s why it’s not very helpful to say to a mentally ill person struggling with their symptoms, “Just do this,” or “Just do that.”
What Works for You Might Not Work For Me
Don’t get me wrong. I definitely want to know your coping strategies, because they just might work for me too. But unfortunately, they may not. The problem comes when we minimize other peoples’ suffering by making a “cookie-cutter” declaration that our coping strategies will work for everyone.
They won’t, and it can engender feelings of inadequacy which can exacerbate the pain we feel. This would be the last thing we’d want a suffering person to experience. So please know, the following are only suggestions to try and help you get started, if you haven’t already.
Put Together a Utility Belt
If you’re familiar with Batman, you know he wears a utility belt. This utility belt is full of little gadgets and weapons which he uses when he fights the bad guys. Batman has supreme confidence in his utility belt, because it’s worked for him in the past.
The idea here is to establish a collection of coping strategies you know have already worked well for you. Have them at the ready so when depression,anxiety, and other bad guys come knocking, you’re ready to fight. Here are a few examples of items you could place in your utility belt. The utility belt is also commonly referred to as a wellness toolbox.
Find Someone you Trust
This can be an important coping strategy for folks with mental illness. Most of us know that many mentally ill people are terribly isolated. Many literally have no human interaction beyond common niceties. They just don’t feel safe among others.
Although this isolation would be considered a negative coping strategy, such as drinking or drugs, you are where you are. At the same time, perhaps you could set realistic goals for yourself to become less isolated. This is important because having another person who knows and cares about you can be invaluable.
Identify your Negative Strategies and Replace them with Positive Ones
We all have coping strategies already, or we probably wouldn’t be alive. But some of those strategies are negative for us because they don’t contribute to our wellness, and sometimes they can make things worse.
Even Some Positive Coping Strategies Can Be Damaging
For example, I really enjoy listening to hard, driving rock and roll music. Did I say loud? Since music is one of the most effective of my strategies, I often retreat to listen to my tunes. It’s definitely a positive strategy for me.
However, since I have an anger management issue as part of combat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I discovered that when I was angry my beloved music would sometimes make me feel angrier. This is because in that musical genre the songs are frequently anger based. They also can replicate the physical attributes of anger, such as making your heart beat faster. Since I definitely don’t need help feeling angry, I stopped doing that as a coping strategy for anger. I still listen, just not when I’m angry. It’s important when you identify a negative coping strategy to not just get rid of it, but replace it with a positive one.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Prepare an Affirmation Portfolio
Write down several affirmations you find particularly helpful to you when you are down. Things such as, “I am a good human being, worthy of respect and love.” When you encounter a period of stress or a flare up of symptoms, pull out your affirmation portfolio and use the affirmations to help you get centered on healthy thoughts about yourself and the world around.
These are but a few of a multitude of different coping strategies. If they work for you, great. If not, that’s fine too. Just develop ones that you find beneficial in helping you cope. link to article